In the third week, we went practical, and I provided some ideas for how to start a daily Bible reading habit.
Last week, we learned how to build a prayer and journaling habit. This week, we conclude with a look at our finances, and how we can build a generosity habit.
The Importance of Generosity
In those episodes, I share my fundamental belief,
“Generosity is a matter of the heart, not the wallet.”
Generosity is baked into the Bible, and it is clear that as believers, we should be joyful when we give but is that how believers truly feel?
I would like to say the answer is “yes”, but we are not always cheerful or joyful when we give. I have written checks multiple times when my heart was not full of joy. I did it out of compulsion or obligation; however, the act of writing the check did slightly change my viewpoint when I was carrying or harboring anger in my spirit.
1 Corinthians 9:7-8 says,
“You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. ‘For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.’ And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.
This scripture passage reminds us that giving is not simply an act of the immediate or hear and now. It challenges us to think, pray and set aside what we plan to give for the year.
How Much Should I Give?
The question of how much should I give or to whom should I give it is not for me to say. Here’s the reason. Financial generosity is a personal matter.
I believe that God lays amounts or percentages on the hearts of His people, as well as the organizations or people to give it.
There is a hot debate in the church that we should give 10% of our income to the local church. I do not disagree with this intention; however, I think that 10% has become legalistic over the years.
In the Old Testament, the tithe (the first fruits or 10%) was brought to the Lord as an offering. In the New Testament, the tithe is described more like an offering to the Lord.
What I do advocate is that it should be the first fruits of your paycheck, and the gross not the net of the check. The growth of online giving allows me to give my “first fruits” on the same day as I get paid.
For example, I get paid every other Friday. On the day I get my paycheck, I also have my “first fruits” amount sent to my local church.
Percentage or Designated Amount?
At the beginning of each year, the Lord and I discuss a percentage amount that I will give throughout the year.
It starts as a percentage, and then as I am working through who or what charities I will support during the year, the percentage refines into dollar amounts.
For example, our church had interns on a three-year commitment. I pledge to support three of the interns at a certain amount for that time period. When the time period closed, I diverted some of that giving to other charities God laid on my heart.
Generosity is another habit that grows over time. For many new believers, the church can be legalistic in its approach to giving. They might say, you need to give 10% because that’s what the Bible says.
Here’s where legalism meets grace, and why I say, “Generosity is a matter of the heart, not the wallet”.
Legalism says – give 10% regardless of anything else because that’s what the Bible says to do.
Grace says give what you can, and leave the rest up to God.
What If I Can’t Give 10%?
As someone who lands on the grace side of this discussion, scripture says, “God loves someone who gives cheerfully”1. If giving or generosity is new to you, start with asking God what amount or what percentage he would like you to give.
If it is 10% great, and if it is 2% great.
For some, the 2% may be a huge stretch. You might have bills piling up on your kitchen table or wonder where your next meal is coming from, but you faithfully give your money. God sees that and honors it.
In fact, you may be surprised how He honors your giving. The giving of your “first fruits” is an act of trust especially if you might be wondering if you can make rent or put food on the table.
God looks at the heart, man looks at the outside. Don’t worry about anyone else, honor your commitment to God, and watch Him provide for you.
I want to encourage you to set a generosity goal each year. The new year is a perfect time to lay your finances out before the Lord and ask Him to show you what percentage to give, how much to give, or who to give towards.
Look at the whole of your finances including any bonuses you may receive. Oh boy, have I gone to meddling now. Now, I am asking you to consider giving your “first fruits” of your bonus as well. That’s between you and God, I’m just asking you to consider the whole picture.
For example, when I received a bonus, I knew the amount set aside for giving, but I didn’t have a clear understanding of where God wanted me to give the money, so I sat, and asked God to show me where. When a need arose, God gently tapped me on the heart and said, “this is where I want you to give”.
I was able to meet a specific need that an organization had because I was patient to wait for His leading.
As we have seen throughout this series, when we stack the habits of opening God’s Word, developing a prayer habit to hear what God is saying, and developing a way to process what God is saying through journaling, then we open ourselves up to move when God asks us to be generous.
Lord, thank you for the opportunity to join you in the work you are doing locally and globally. Thank you for using ordinary people to meet the needs of hurting people, and I ask you to speak to each person listening to this podcast. Help them to make wise financial decisions, and help them to see they are making difference in the world where they live. Thank you for your love and grace. Amen!
- 1 Corinthians 9:7 ↩︎